I mostly write for my Blog (DigitalFreethought.com) so when I come across another news article about atheism, or argument for religion, that I usually sit down to write. It's my belief that people today have short attention spans, so my Blog articles don't generally lend themselves to lengthy treatments of a subject, but I do try to make sure I have a minimum of 800 on any article before I let it go. However sometimes, when the subject is particularly engaging, I have to make myself stop at 1200-1600 words. Of course, you simply can't do justice to some subjects with a short piece; my de-conversion story for instance went to 2 blog articles.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I suppose it was O'Henry's short-stories in school. "Clothes Make the Man", "The gift of the Magi", and Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". I remember them all vividly, but what really turned me into an avid reader was Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan, series; and then his John Carter Series. They profoundly affected me, and have ever since then. I'm a unapologetic romantic to this day (I"m 65). I went on to devour all of the Science Fiction I could get my hands on.
How do you approach cover design?
I try to put myself in the place of the person who would get the most out of my book; it's non-fiction, and introduces atheism to those who may not have encountered an atheist before; a worried mother, for instance, who just doesn't understand how her own child could turn away from religion. The religion that she has so patiently tried to engender respect for in her child. Then I tried to find a picture of that person representing that worry.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein, "A Winter's Tale" by Mark Helprin (please don't judge it by the movie), "War of the Worlds" by H. G. Wells, "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells and "Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I like the iPad, but really any tablet will do. The book reader applications are available for most platforms and phones, and make it easy to keep your book(s) with you.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I mainly just go on-line to Facebook and interact with people on forums that discuss the subject matter of my book. I give honest, thoughtful feedback to statements and questions I find there, and if I use any content from my book I cite it as a resource. The important thing is not to be flippant, or rush your answer. Your writing on social media represents your writing per se, and should be interesting and thought-provoking.
Describe your desk
Cluttered, but not dirty. Oh, and it has a marauding cat that helps me write (or at least that's what he claims.)
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in 2 phases. First in Chicago, until I was 12, then in rural West Tennessee until I turned 18. I guess from that I learned to speak in a plain, no nonsense fashion. However, I like to think that I take most of my thought, speech and writing patterns from reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, and various Science Fiction writers (Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Clark, etc.) that I read voraciously during my teenage years.
When did you first start writing?
My first interest in writing was kindled in letters home to my parents when I was in the service. I hate having to read letters that don't really say anything, or ramble to no purpose, so I tried to make them interesting and informative; and if I could think of anything that was humorous, I would include that as well.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My book is non-fiction, so it was not 'a story' per se, but a collection of articles that I wrote for my blog. However, It does include stories about personal religious experiences, growing up in a religious family, and how memories can be manufactured; and how they may not be accurate. There are also stories of how people came to believe, and how they left religious belief behind. Stories about miracles, faith and (supposed) demon-possession and exorcism.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My book was about atheism. There are not many publishers who would entertain a book on that subject unless the writer has a PhD, or is famous in some other area of their life. So, Indie publishing seemed to be just what I was looking for. The main drawback to me is that you have to do you're own promotional work, and I haven't done much of that before. It's a pretty steep learning curve, but it's also gratifying when you see that no one is standing between you and getting your book into the hands of readers. When you see people buying your book, and reading your thoughts; and you know that your book will live on long after you.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It has made it possible for this lone person to make his book available to people all over the world; distributed by dozens of eBook retailers. It really is an incredible opportunity, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity that represents . I certainly plan to spread the word!
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.